Madrid (Spain), Jan 9 (SocialNews.XYZ) Former champions FC Barcelona claimed a narrow win away to Atletico Madrid, while Real Madrid slipped up in Villarreal and Real Sociedad strengthened their claim to be considered La Liga title outsiders in the 16th round of matches.
Here are some things we learned from the matches played this weekend:
- Defense sees Barca home
FC Barcelona moved three points clear at the top of La Liga with a 1-0 win away to Atletico Madrid on Sunday night, thanks to Ousmane Dembele's first-half goal.
Barca were under pressure for most of the match, but a moment of inspiration and a solid defensive display saw them home.
Barca's defense has been excellent all season, having only conceded six goals, and the return of Ronald Araujo after injury, without doubt, improves their back four.
The Uruguayan saved an almost certain goal with a goal-line clearance in the closing moments -- the second time he has saved a goal in two games -- in a display of pace and confidence.
- Maybe it wasn't Enrique's fault
Former Spain coach Luis Enrique has been criticised by the pro-Real Madrid press and fans for a long time, with complaints that he overlooked players from the club for personal reasons.
Enrique took Dani Carvajal and Marco Asensio to the FIFA World Cup, but if new coach Luis de la Fuente is planning to pick any Real Madrid players into his first squad this March, he is going to have a tough task, after Carlo Ancelotti named a Madrid side without any Spanish players in his starting 11 for Saturday's defeat at Villarreal, reports Xinhua.
Real Madrid have ended a game with no Spanish players before, but this is the first time they have started a league match without any.
If no Spaniards are starting for Real Madrid, then it's hard to see how any can start for Spain.
Real Sociedad are the alternative
Real Sociedad's 2-0 win in Almeria moved Imanol Alguacil's side to within just six points of Real Madrid and extended their winning run to five games in all competitions and three in La Liga.
The San Sebastian side presses rivals high up the field. Meanwhile, they have plenty of options in attack, and with Mikel Oyarzabal and Carlos Fernandez coming back to full fitness, Imanol is going to have more chances to rest players in a busy part of the season.
Sergio slowly digs Cadiz out of trouble
After a dreadful start to the season that saw them lose their first five games without scoring a goal, Cadiz's recovery has been slow and steady in recent weeks. Although Sevilla's win at home to Getafe leaves them in the bottom three, Cadiz's 1-0 win in Valencia means they have taken eight points from their last five games.
Cadiz scored only 11 goals from their first 16 games of the season, but coach Sergio Gonzalez has tightened up their leaky defense and made them hard to beat.
There is still work to be done, but they are now in a group of seven sides within three points of each other and survival is a very real possibility.